BlackBook 3 Minutes: Artists Leonardo Drew & Paul Pagk

Existential crises — we all have them. As an artist, there’s even the potential for post-mortem existential trouble. Just consider that the grave of Piet Mondrian, one of the great artists, was hardly remembered until two of today’s artists stumbled upon it, entirely unremarkable, in a cemetery in Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills.

The discovery of Mondrian’s grave jolted painter Paul Pagk and sculptor Leonardo Drew — what would they leave behind? A body of work, hopefully remembered, and a forgotten body? Here the two ponder their future legacies, and the legacy of those around them.

BlackBook 3 Minutes: Nick Wooster and Public School

Fashion can be a fickle business, and as Tom Ford said at the 2013 CFDA Awards, if you’re not absolutely sure about it, you might want to try something else. Rising stars can drop out of sight (as CFDA winners Public School once did before this second, successful self-iteration, strengthened by the Vogue Fashion Fund and the counseling of venerated industry veterans), respected consultants and fashion directors can fall out of favor while at the helm of major department stores just as quickly as they can gather dedicated Tumblr pages (just look to Nick Wooster and his admiring legions of fans). So when two successful examples cross paths and reflect on the influence and talent and rise over time of the other, it’s worth taking a listen.

Nick Wooster recently announced his departure from his latest venture at Atrium, on his own terms this time – we’ve known him to be ousted from stately department stores for perhaps choosing the wrong words, and gone from a more wide-reaching store for being a bit too fashion – so it’s refreshing to hear this menswear hero will be making his own career choices now. The recently crowned Vogue Fashion Fund winners are as eager to watch Nick, and vice versa, as we.

BlackBook Presents: Public School & Nick Wooster from BlackBook on Vimeo.

BlackBook 3 Minutes: Andy Cohen and Billy Eichner Part II

One afternoon in January, Andy Cohen, the grinning, gleeful, garrulous host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live sat down to chat with Billy Eichner, the grinning, gleeful, garrulous star of Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street. Eichner had been on Cohen’s show a few times, and Cohen—an avid booster of social media—is a keen follower of Eichner’s hilarious Twitter feed (sample: “Just remember – without Ringo Starr there would be no Beyoncé”) which has become essential reading during awards season. Cohen and Eichner, not surprisingly, have a lot in common—not only are they Jewish and gay and funny, they also enjoy Girls, love Fashion Queens, and adore Madonna. Well, what else did you expect?

If you missed Part 1, can you find it here.

Emerging Designers: Chris Gelinas

With an actively gentle yet realistically shielding touch, newcomer Chris Gelinas brings the beautiful clothes of our impending future to New York fashion, in material, construction, and in respect to the elements. There’s thoughtfulness to CG’s designs, a consideration of our environment, the impact we’ve had on our nature and how exactly it’s being paid forward back to us. Considering the dual warmth and warping the sun provides, Chris Gelinas imbues his wearer with a strengthened grace; she’s a sweet girl with a realistically wary outlook, self-protective without getting lost behind her shield. In fact, it’s the shield helps her stand out more.

With industry approval at his back (Gelinas has garnered recognition both from Peroni as the winner of the MADE for Peroni Young Designer Award and now as a finalist for the LVMH Prize), his hands searching through the most innovative materials, and his feet planted firmly on the ground, Gelinas promises to take CG far. We can’t wait to wear his pieces and watch his brand grow.

BlackBook 3 Minutes: Andy Cohen and Billy Eichner Part I

One afternoon in January, Andy Cohen, the grinning, gleeful, garrulous host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live sat down to chat with Billy Eichner, the grinning, gleeful, garrulous star of Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street. Eichner had been on Cohen’s show a few times, and Cohen—an avid booster of social media—is a keen follower of Eichner’s hilarious Twitter feed (sample: “Just remember – without Ringo Starr there would be no Beyoncé”) which has become essential reading during awards season. Cohen and Eichner, not surprisingly, have a lot in common—not only are they Jewish and gay and funny, they also enjoy Girls, love Fashion Queens, and adore Madonna. Well, what else did you expect?

Marina Abramović‎ and William Basinski Inhabit an Eternal Moment (Part IV)

As fearless and ferociously talented as she is seductive and passionate, iconic performance artist Marina Abramović has spent more than forty years challenging herself and engaging audiences with her work. As a pioneer of performance art, she has created some of the most vital early works of the movement, putting her mind and body at the forefront as the medium, and offering herself to her audience no matter the danger. When we spoke to Abramović back in 2012 for the release ofThe Artist is Present—a documentary chronicling her seminal performance exhibition at MoMA—she told us:

I don’t have any personal life so it was not complicated, everything is public and all my work is available to everybody. I show all aspects of myself—fragile, strange, dramatic, kitschy, whatever. And I think being vulnerable, the public can also project their own vulnerability into my persona, which makes them closer to me and I’m closer to them.

And as her most personal work to date, Robert Wilson’s viscerally and visually stunning The Life and Death of Marina Abramović (now onstage at the Park Avenue Armory), re-imagines her remarkable life—from the tortured Yugoslavian childhood of her past and her decades of work as a performance artist to her love affairs and what the future will inevitably bring. Starring Abramović as both herself and her mother, she performs alongside an incredibly athletic Willem Dafoe and bellowing Antony Hegarty. Amalgamating music, theater, sound, design, physical performance, and visual art, the “quasi-opera” encompasses all facets of performance, bringing the audience on a fragmented and abstract immersion into the emotional and psychological landscape of the artist’s extraordinary life.

From the early beginnings of her career, Abramović has used her body as a vehicle for expression—and Wilson’s show, in which she gave him complete freedom to tell her story, is no exception. With her art, she creates a unique dialogue between herself and audience, asking the public to watch as she tests the mental and physical limitations of the human body. She solicits the viewer to participate in the experience, creating a conversation and critique of social norms and boundaries of everyday actions and interactions. Having been raised in former Yugoslavia to militant parents, her childhood was imbued with an incredible sense of discipline and structure which has fueled her abilities as an artist, but also created an extreme emotional distance that has created a deep yearning to love and be loved. And in that great expression of physicality in her work, she manipulates our conception of time, slowing down the clock to embody the notion of time’s illusion to inhabit an eternal moment.

And if there’s any other artist whose work echoes that temporal element, it’s avant-garde electronic composer and master of brilliant sound William Basinski—who collaborated with Wilson, Abramović, and Hegarty to create the powerful music forThe Life and Death of Marina Abramović. As one of the most fascinating composers in the world, he too has been perfecting his craft for decades now. After being greatly inspired by Brian Eno’s melancholic Music for Airports and the work of Steve Reich, Basinski began experimenting, investigating just how far he could go with the tape loops that have now gone on to garner him both the acclaim and following that has been slowly building for over twenty years. His immersive soundscapes drone on and on, shifting your consciousness—stripping bare the artifice of time and allowing you to inhabit that eternal moment. From his early work to The Disintegration Loops and now his work with Abramović, his music lives in an ineffable realm that’s as delicate as it is harrowing and extremely powerful in its absolute beauty—especially heard here upon the stage.

“In the concerts, I usually do one long set because the whole point is to try and get out of this body and this worry and this nonsense and just take a little vacation, fall in. And forty minutes can go by and it feels like five, so that’s the ideal situation. It’s like meditation, you have some relief, you sort of go back into the womb,” he once told me. And although having never met previously to the collaborative experience of the show, Abramović have fallen into a natural simpatico, both in their work and personally.

Now one of the most revered and legendary artists—with a show that immortalizes her career— Abramović took some time while getting her stage makeup done to talk to her dear friend Basinski to discuss the physical and mental limits of expression, inhabiting an eternal moment, and the state of the art world today through their seasoned eyes.

Enjoy Part I,  Part II, and Part III.

The Bond Girls on Fame

At quite a young age, sisters Remy and Olivia Bond are getting to know a thing or two about the good life. Back in the fall, Remy starred in “A Dream of Flying”—a fairy tale-esque love story film a about “a girl who will spend her whole life trying not to fly, and a boy who would give his life to teach her”—from director Georgina Chapman, co-founder and designer of Marchesa. Written by Neil Gaiman, the film was made in conjunction with Ron Howard’s Project Imaginat10n and won audiences over with its charm.

And here, just on the cusp of their stardom, we see the wonderful sisters in conversation, as Olivia interviews Remy on her experience on “A Dream of Flying” and the fabulousness and pitfalls of fame.


Inside Movies: Daniel Hardy & Fred Berger on David O. Russell’s ‘American Hustle’

Inside Movies is a series of video conversations hosted by screenwriter Daniel Hardy in conversation with various people from within the film industry. This series looks to offer an insider’s perspective—and an absurdly geeky passion for film —as all manner of current movie-related topics are discussed.

This week’s guest is film producer and self-proclaimed movie nerd Fred Berger. This week, the two discuss David O. Russell’s latest ensemble piece American Hustle. With a heavy-hitting cast of Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, and Bradley Cooper, the 1970’s set film is loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation and tells the story of two con artists who find themselves working for the FBI to set up a sting operation on corrupt politicians.

Sponsored by Audible.

BlackBook 3 Minutes: Composer Clint Mansell and Writer Irvine Welsh (Part II)

If, like me, you were lucky (and old) enough to have attended the UK premiere of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting in Edinburgh in 1996 you would have been aware of witnessing a cultural moment. Part of that was Boyle’s kinetic filmmaking—a much-needed jolt in the arm of a moribund British movie industry dominated by period dramas and genteel comedies. Then there was the alchemy of a cast that included Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, and a terrifying Robert Carlyle, as well as barmaid-turned-actress Kelly Macdonald making her debut as Diane, the underage girlfriend of McGregor’s heroin addict, Mark Renton. And, crucially, there was the political landscape into which the movie was born—the tail end of 18 years of Conservative rule that had decimated Britain’s industrial base.

More important than any of these things, however, was the scabrous novel by Irvine Welsh, a boiling cauldron of fury and outrage leavened by the antic, madcap exploits of a group of pals desperate to find their next fix. The idea of a literary “event,” seems almost quaint today, but the 1993 publication of Trainspotting—really a series of short, interconnected stories—was a seminal moment that connected to the kind of readers not typically courted by the publishing industry. The fact that is was just voted Scotland’s favorite novel of the last 50 years illustrates how lasting its impact has been even if the novel’s principle concern—Scotland’s chronic drug culture and the epidemic of AIDS it spawned—is less resonant than it once was.

Welsh did not rest on his laurels—seven novels and four collections of short stories have followed, including Filth, a picaresque tale of a misanthropic, coke-snorting psychopathic Scottish detective. Despite being described by Welsh as “unfilmable,” a movie version has just been released in the U.K. to raves, particularly for James McAvoy’s performance in the central role, and it will be a lasting shame if it doesn’t find the audience it deserves. And as Trainspotting drew power from the propulsive techno of Underworld’s seminal track, “Born Slippy,” so Filth is elevated by the sepulchral beauty of composer Clint Mansell’s score.

Best-known for his long working relationship with Darren Aronofsky, Mansell grew up in the U.K. at a time when the attitude and spirit of punk was rousing a generation of frustrated teens. For Welsh, the call-to-arms was The Sex Pistols; for Mansell it was The Ramones. Both men would channel that spirit into their work. As lead singer and guitarist for Brit rock band, Pop Will Eat Itself (aka The Poppies), Mansell enjoyed modest success, cracking the U.K.’s top ten with the 1993 single, “Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies,” and later befriending Trent Reznor (Mansell plays backing vocals on NIN’s The Fragile).

The break up of The Poppies in 1996 might have been the end of Mansell’s career in music but for a random encounter with Aronofsy who was looking for a composer for his debut movie, Pi. The two bonded over their mutual despair at the state of filmmaking in general, and film-composing in particular. Requiem for a Dream—arguably Mansell’s best-known score—followed, and the commissions have come thick and fast ever since. “I’m not very analytical really; everything I do is based on gut feelings,” Mansell told BlackBook earlier this year. “My job is to embellish the universe that the filmmaker is trying to create with this story and images and performance; everything I do has to be true to that world.”

BlackBook invited Welsh and Mansell to chat about the art of story telling, the power of punk, and what it means to help articulate a cultural moment.

(See PART I on their conversation HERE)